The delicious taste of bison begins on the native rangelands and pastures of North America. Mother Nature perfected bison over thousands of years to produce flavorful, healthy meat from the native grasses and other plants in our ecosystem. All bison spend the majority of their lives on these native pastures.
Native grasslands comprise more than 40 percent of North America’s natural landscape. The grasses serve as powerful carbon traps that remove CO2 from the atmosphere and returning it to the soil through the root system.
North America’s grasslands evolved over tens of thousands of years of continuous grazing by large ruminants, most notably the American bison. This co-evolutionary process to grasses and grazers developed into a symbiotic relationship that is vital to the health of both.
Grasses across North America produce roughly one-third more growth each year, than will naturally decompose. This excess growth chokes the soil and prevents healthy plant growth. Bison moving across pastures remove the choking cover and help to create a healthier ecosystem.
To survive, bison evolved as herd animals where large, tightly-packed herds moved quickly across the land. Grasslands, thus evolved to thrive under conditions of short periods of severe grazing, hoof action, and manuring, followed by periods of rest and recovery. As the bison graze, their hoofs stir the soil, helping to bury seeds and to create small pockets in the earth to capture precious moisture.
Because bison are undomesticated, they continue to interact with the environment as nature intended. Today’s bison still graze in herds, moving across the land, and only briefly stopping by the watering holes, reducing the damaging impact of hooves along riparian areas. Domesticated species, meanwhile, have long lost much of that natural behavior, and will commonly stand and graze in one spot, or lounge around stream beds and ponds on hot days.
Land managers of other livestock species have adapted practices—such as rotational grazing—to try an imitate the natural interaction of bison with the soil. Those practices are beneficial, but will never completely replicate the natural patterns of bison.